As Fun to Play as it is to Say


Ultra-violent cartoony side-scrolling shooter/brawler! If the previous sentence fragment doesn't make you giddy with excitement, there's no talking to you. However, if you've got a thing for good old-fashioned electronic bloodshed, pay attention. Electronic Arts and Klei Entertainment are bringing Shank to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Yes, the name of the game is Shank; doesn't it already bleed awesome sauce? Yes. I would know. I've played it. If you're a fan of Metal Slug, Contra or other arcade shooter/brawlers, Shank will probably reduce you to a weepy, nostalgic mess.

Based on what I played, it's easy to tell that the titular character is craving a dish best served cold. Shank is ripped, mean, and packing all kinds of heat. This becomes apparent less than ten seconds into the demo, when he walks into a bar only to be accosted by a number of thugs who want to put him down for a dirt nap. With the press of a button, Shank pounces into the air, daggers at the ready. A number of subsequent button presses turn the attack into a multi-weapon combo. The scene turns into a bloody whirl of daggers, machetes, bullets, and chainsaws. A few seconds later, everyone except Shank is dead.

When Shank steps outside, he gets a chance to show off his agility. He can run up walls unaided for a few seconds. His trusty daggers are always there when he runs out of momentum. Telephone poles adorned with skulls mark locations where he can swing like a monkey. All of Shank's abilities are tied in with the game's freeform combat system. He can hurl himself through a window, fillet a group of enemies, toss a grenade or two, and pull out a pair of pistols. It's a primal experience where you are the hunter, despite the fact that you are outnumbered.

Shank seems to have a lot going for it, not the least of which being the art style. It looks like a moving comic book in most scenes, but sometimes the style will change. At one point, Shank finds himself on a crowded wooden bridge at sunset. There's a subtle artistic shift, and all of the characters become silhouettes. It's seriously cool.

Developers for the online marketplace have seen success with the arcade genre. Everyone loves Castle Crashers, and Streets of Rage 2. The way I see it, the online community will embrace every new addition to the genre, and Shank will be no exception. Stay tuned for more details as this downloadable title nears its release date.

EA Games